26 Things Your Group Fitness Instructor Won’t Tell You
Fitness instructors from across the country vent about what pushes their buttons, and reveal what you should know before arriving to the fitness studio.
Follow my lead
I get aggravated when students do a different workout than the one I’m teaching — and they’re in the front row! You come to class but choose to do your own thing… really, what’s the point?! Avoid these moves that fitness instructors think are a waste of time.
It takes a lot to be entertaining, funny, and likable
All while trying to motivate people to do things that will cause them pain. I think the 80’s thong leotards and side-ponytails gave aerobics instructors a bad rap. We’re also not all super bubbly and rail-thin.
Leave your cell at home
Can you not exercise for an hour without checking your text messages?
Yes, I’ve embarrassed myself
I was chewing gum while teaching and it flew out and stuck onto the mirror in front of me during class. Oh, and it was bright green!
Coffee’s my friend
When I don’t feel like teaching I have a GIANT cup of coffee. I usually don’t feel like teaching when I’m tired or run down, so caffeine usually does the trick. And if that fails, keep smiling. As the saying goes, fake it ‘til you make it! These are secrets your weight-loss trainer won’t tell you.
Preparing is a lot of work!
Pre-choreographed classes, like BodyPump and Turbo Kickboxing, take hours of prep. We’re sent materials every 6 weeks and we have to review and learn all the music and choreography before we teach it to you.
Stop weighing yourself constantly
Newbies expect miracles without realizing that while the added muscle may not make the scale drop, it will bring the pants’ size down. But you can’t change your physique simply by working out; 80 percent of any change and fat loss is the result of a clean diet.
I wish you’d be more vocal
When you’ve had a great workout, but save the moaning, grunts, and other weird noises for home.
When I want you to work hard, I use really upbeat songs with pounding bass. If we’re doing something that requires a slower tempo, I turn it down. If the music sucks it doesn’t matter how high energy or good the instructor is. It’s also about what I like. If it’s not something I’d work out to, it never makes it to the class playlist.
Ladies, consider wearing a cami or additional liner under your low cut Lululemon or Lucy yoga tops. I get an eyeful I really don’t wish to see when you’re in downward dog. And guys, don’t forget your liner shorts! I don’t want to see anything poking through your gym shorts in class! Try these gym hacks to make your workout less of a chore.
We don’t all have perfect relationships with health and fitness
People assume we spend our days eating salad without dressing and train ALL the time. Sometimes I’m tired, cranky, hungry, or want a pizza but I have to put on the show. Sometimes I want to veg out and eat junk food, and sometimes I actually do!
When you’re sick, stay home
You may want to sweat out your cold or flu, but I don’t want your germs, especially when you want a really good workout and position yourself in the front row and cough and sneeze your way through the class.
It kills me when you come into the fitness studio without water
Proper hydration is just so important that I mandate a water break just after the turbo section of class. It’s my biggest pet peeve because I am going to make you sweat!
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Sometimes, I review the order of my exercises. Sometimes, I just fly by the seat of my pants… no plan, just fun! Other times, I completely check out mentally during class. These are the secrets your gym doesn’t want you to know.
Be careful what you complain about
When I’m cranky and short-tempered I’m more likely to make you do something hard and brutal because you whined about something else.
Music helps me bring some of my personality to the table
It also helps me connect with students; I take requests and will download songs for them. Who wouldn’t want an instructor to play their personal power song?!
I’m constantly learning
I prepare classes by reading, watching videos, attending workshops, and taking other instructor’s classes. I can’t tell you how many times my family’s walked into my office only to find me on the floor contorted into some unusual position for the latest ab or outer-thigh exercise that I have just discovered online. They used to ask what I was doing, but now they leave before I force them to give it a try.
When I don’t feel like teaching, I grab a straw and suck it up
People pay us good money to train them, so even on our “off days” we have to put on that smile and bring the energy.
Everyone started somewhere
Don’t worry if other people are using heavier weights, higher steps, or going farther while stretching. The fact that you are there participating at all is the most important thing. You have everyone’s respect as long as you show up and give your best effort, and no one can ask for more than that!
It irritates me the most when you refuse to try
Fitness is one of the only things in life where you can achieve success simply by trying harder than you did yesterday. This is the scientific reason group exercise is better for you.
Work within your own limits and abilities
If I suggest a modification for an exercise, it would be helpful if you’d follow the suggested guideline. It’s for your own good!
Some exercises make people fart
Get over it. Reverse crunches do especially, most particularly while squeezing and lifting a fit ball. I think it means that they are working hard, and giving a huge effort. Some people I think are so mortified when it happens that they leave class that day and never come back. I wish they wouldn’t care as much. I don’t!
I’m not your doctor
I’m also not your therapist.
Be on time
Showing up late to class is rude and disrupts everyone. Plus, you miss the most important part of class — the warm-up! The best is when you walk in, 5 minutes after class starts, to set up your bike or your mat and you’re on the phone!
This isn’t my only job
And I wish you wouldn’t assume we’re all meatheads who enjoy working out 24/7.
We bear witness to embarrassment
One time, a yoga ball popped while a heavier gentleman was on it. (It was a “yoga” ball and not a standard, durable, Swiss Ball.) I was mortified.
I’m pretty open with my classes
I find a healthy amount of openness with my students helps them see me as a person who just loves exercise, not some sort of Goddess on a pedestal. Avoid these mistakes that you’re most likely making in your group fitness class.